CJI Bench sends fresh petition on FRA to Arun Mishra Bench

Since a similar matter is before the Mishra Bench, the CJI Bench has sent the new petition to it

By Ishan Kukreti
Published: Monday 25 March 2019
Representational Photo. Credit: Getty Images

A Supreme Court (SC) bench comprising of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna on March 25, 2019, sent a petition on the Forest Rights Act (FRA) to the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra to decide on its admissibility.

On March 5, a petition was filed by a Chhattisgarh-based tribal woman, Tarika Tarangini Larka, seeking a direction to the Centre not to allot possession of any forest land belonging to tribals to anyone other than 'Adivasis' residing in that particular area.

“Since a similar matter is already pending before the bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra, the bench decided that this petition too should be placed before that bench,” said Radhika Chitkara, lawyer and researcher on forest rights. She was present at the hearing.

In her petition, Larka had sought the SC’s direction to prevent authorities from evicting tribal people and for setting up of an SIT to look into allegations of acquisition of tribal land in the country.

“The injustice done to the tribal people of India is a dark chapter in our country's history. The tribals were slaughtered by the invaders, powerful political leaders, industrialists in large numbers, and the survivors and their descendants were degraded, humiliated, and all kinds of atrocities inflicted on them for centuries.

“They were deprived of their lands, and pushed into forests and hills where they eke out a miserable existence of poverty, illiteracy, disease, etc. And now efforts are being made by some people to deprive them even of their forest and hill land where they are living, and the forest produce on which they survive," the petition says, according to media reports.

The court is already hearing petitions which have challenged the constitutional validity of FRA filed by former forest bureaucrats and wildlife conservation organisations.

Hearing these petitions, the court on February 13, 2019, gave an order asking states to submit affidavits on the status of FRA implementation, particularly on the process of appeal and carrying out eviction wherever such orders had been given. The court put a stay on this order on February 28 after the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs filed a review petition.

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